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Your Holiday Shipping and Order Deadlines Guide 2016 [free visuals included]

By Elina Bumbiere - Reading time: 5 minutes

People are impatient.

There, I said it! It’s a bold statement, but I think we all know it’s true. We are so busy with our lives, responsibilities, and chores that we barely ever have time to just relax. The holiday craze is that time of year when everyone seems to be on pins and needles thinking about the constantly growing to-do list and their loved ones’ gift wish list. It takes up most of our time and can sometimes even cloud the holiday magic. And then there’s shipping to think about.

Here’s the thing – in the 2016 holiday season there will only be 29 days between Black Friday and Christmas. With the annual growth of ecommerce holiday sales, retailers will have more packages to fulfill and deliver. And, when it’s holiday gifts you’re delivering, your customers better receive those packages on time.

You want to be prepared. This blog post gives you the rundown of all the shipping facts you need to know. It informs you about the shipping rates you can use through Printful and offers ideas on maintaining your profit margins while offering holiday deals. And yes – free visuals to use for your promotions.

Shipping and holiday deals – do they go together?

It’s no secret that every customer loves a good bargain. Their eyes light up when that discount pops up on their screen because spending less is the best. As a retailer, you have a bit of a different agenda. Holiday deals are a great way for you to hook new customers on your brand and have more sales. The “Holiday Shopping Statistics and Trends” poll which was done by Investpcro.com shows that 94% of all polled consumers prefer some kind of a discount when they’re holiday shopping.

Screen Shot 2016-10-04 at 13.51.13

Source: “Holiday Shopping Statistics and Trends”

Clearly, the discount bandwagon is the one you should jump on this season, but don’t go overboard. The big numbers are inviting to customers, but you want to earn some profit as well. The key to doing that is making sure there are enough customers buying your products. Here are the 4 steps of having a sale without losing profit.

  1. Promo – get people interested before the official start. A great example is the Bath and Body Works 2016 Christmas campaign. It gets the word out and people have more time to get acquainted with the idea.GiftGuide_hmbSource: Bath and Body Works
  2. Early access – get a list of your most loyal customers and grant them early sale access. Victoria’s Secret is known for this promo. You already know that they like your products, so why not allow them to snatch some of your goodies first?vs_angels_firstSource: Victoria’s Secret
  3. Scare tactics – people like to think they’ll have time to shop the sale later. A little scare is good. Offer 24-hour or, 48-hour sales, or limited quantity sales where only the first 100 people get the discount. 6670140Source: LOREX
  4. Extend the sale – there will definitely be those customers who had something in their cart but then decided to leave. Reach out to them with a special extended sale offer. This works because everyone has FOMO – the fear of missing out.extendedday1Source: Sprouting Tadpoles

Pick and choose which of these 4 steps you want to take for your holiday sale season this year. Be careful when combining scare tactics with the extended sale – you don’t want to be making promises about a sale ending and then extending it. It makes your customers lose trust.

 

The crowd favorite – free shipping

We just talked about maintaining profit while offering discounts on your products. But another tactic you should consider is free shipping and here’s why. According to customer experience study by UPS, there are three key factors that tell you why free shipping is so important.

  • 4 in 5 customers feel that free shipping is an important factor when making a purchase online.
  • 93% of shoppers take action to qualify for free shipping, and the leading action to take is adding items to a cart (58%).
  • 83% of customers say they will wait an additional 2 days or more for delivery to receive free shipping.

If that’s not proof enough, take a look at these stats in “Holiday Shopping Statistics And Trends”.

Screen Shot 2016-10-04 at 13.51.28

Source: “Holiday Shopping Statistics And Trends”

Knowing that 83% of customers don’t mind waiting a few extra days for their items to arrive is important and should give you the confidence you need to offer free shipping for your products this year as well. By offering free shipping you can actually get more sales than you normally would, that way not losing profit. Free shipping is inviting to customers and 58% would add items to cart if free shipping was an option. To be extra safe, you can also price your products to cover the shipping costs.  You can get free email campaign visuals for free shipping right here. 

 

Free is good, but I want fast!

Although many customers are willing to wait the extra days for free shipping, it’s good to offer options when it comes to shipping. Some people might prefer paying extra for a quick delivery. Printful offers live shipping rates that are always available for Shopify Advanced plan users, Woocommerce and Ecwid users as well as API users. The live carrier rates are a great option for the holidays, mostly because they give your last minute gift shoppers a way to still receive their items on time. We’ll be sharing the official holiday order deadlines in this post, so make sure you check those out.

You might be wondering, well what if I don’t use any of the platforms that are compatible with live rates, and my store is not integrated through API? Don’t worry – we have a solution for you too. The good news is that live rates are also available for all manual orders. The bad news is that since you’re using a platform that doesn’t support live rates, you can’t actually display them at checkout. So here’s what you can do:

  • Add multiple shipping options to your checkout manually. Essentially you’re creating your own flat rates. Group them by price and speed. We suggest having two rates at checkout- basic delivery speed (the flat rates you’re currently using) and expedited delivery speed (use our live rates). When your customer selects one, make sure you upgrade the shipping to the corresponding rate on Printful.
  • Don’t make any big changes and simply upgrade the shipping if your customer insists it has to be delivered quickly.

The 2016 Holiday Order Deadlines

Nobody wants to be THAT person on Christmas morning that has to explain why their gifts are not there. Um… they’re on their way? It’s awkward, so ordering in time is crucial.

Not ordering on time causes so much heartache on your customer’s side when they don’t get their intended gift on time as well as the gift’s recipient, who was left empty-handed.  It’s a difficult situation for you as well as our customer support team, because we both will have to deal with sad customers and answer distraught emails due to late orders.

These are the 2016 order deadlines dates:

USA

Nov. 30 – FedEx Smart Post
Dec. 2 –  FedEx Ground
Dec. 8 –  FedEx Express Saver
Dec. 8 –  USPS First Class Mail
Dec. 9 –  FedEx 2Day
Dec. 12 –  FedEx Standard Overnight

Canada

Nov. 23 – Int’l Economy
Nov. 30 – USPS First Class Mail
Dec. 5 – Int’l Priority
Dec. 2 – FedEx International Ground
Dec. 9 – FedEx International Economy
Dec. 12 – FedEx International Priority

Military

Nov. 29 – USPS

Europe / Asia / Pacific Rim / Australia / New Zealand / Caribbean

Nov. 18 – Int’l Economy
Nov. 28 – Int’l Priority
Dec. 1 – FedEx International Economy
Dec. 6 – FedEx International Priority

Africa / Central & South America / Middle East

Nov. 9 – Int’l Economy
Nov. 15 – Int’l Priority
Dec. 1 – FedEx International Economy

Don’t be empty handed for the Holidays!

Remind your customers of the last day they can order, so their gifts make it in time for the 25th. There are plenty of benefits – your customer gets their order on time, you get fewer complaints, and by reminding your customers to buy, thanks to the nudge effect, it will most likely lead to more sales!

To make it even easier for you, we’ve created a few free visuals that you can use and put up on your social media accounts to remind your customers when to order (tip: overlay your transparent logo onto them using Canva). We’ve also included an awesome shipping deadlines calendar. Download them at the bottom of this post.

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